Ready to Wear: The middle class now know the ethical cost of budget fashion

Isn't it funny – and at least occasionally quite gratifying – how times change. And so I find myself on a balmy Bank Holiday Monday afternoon discussing with my good friend Ben just how great it is that, perhaps for the first time in our lives, we find our unswerving and loyal devotion to spending exorbitant amounts of money on our wardrobes finally earning us the moral high ground.

For years, you see, the British in particular have taken at least some pride in the fact that they might look half decent for not much more than the price of a Double Whopper with cheese at Burger King. Those who choose to spend a significant percentage of their income on designer clothes, on the other hand, have been viewed not only as profligate and vain but also, in Ben's case at least, most probably gay. He's straight, for the record, to explode just another Great British prejudice/myth.

That is the case no longer, however. The middle class in this country – for it is they, not the less fortunate, who must stand up and be counted – now know the ethical cost of budget fashion while Ben and I rest safe in the knowledge that, with our quality not quantity mindset, we are not only sparing the nation's landfills but also supporting a highly-creative, skilled, and at best unionised industry which is, in fact, comparatively clean and serene.

Credit crunch/recession or no, the solution to dress is not to buy 10 or even 20 items of clothing at Primark, say, when, for the same price, the consumer could afford a single garment made in either France or Italy to far more elevated technical and indeed moral standards. And while we all know that the big brands are far from immune to the considerable lure of cheap labour, it is also true that they tend to pay higher rates and have longer deadlines when they do outsource their work, meaning that the likelihood of foul practice on the part of any sub-contractors is less likely.

Buy little and buy well. That surely should be our mantra, then. In the best of all possible worlds, the fashion follower would invest in pieces she or he loves, wear them for years and until they are falling off their backs and then have no qualms about replacing them. Why would you when they have served so well?

Of course, this viewpoint is not necessarily grasped by all lovers of the finer things in sartorial life. According to the 'Daily Mirror', Victoria Beckham owns no less than 100 Hermès Birkin bags, presumably in every colour and skin under the sun. Given that even the simplest version costs upwards of £2,000 this gives new meaning to the words buying in bulk.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

    £16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

    £27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

    £19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

    Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

    Day In a Page

    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor